Corporate Christmas parties are the highlight of the year for many businesses. When properly planned, they give employees a chance to celebrate the end of the work year by rewarding them for their effort and commitment. They boost morale, encourage a sense of unity and most importantly, add a little bit of fun into the rigid corporate landscape.
If you’ve been put in charge of pulling together an amazing annual employee Christmas party, our guide will give you a headstart. Don’t let the stress of party planning pull you down. It’s easier than you actually think. We promise.
Planning the perfect work Christmas party is no different to planning a project or event. Having a plan of action will help you identify those are all important details, helping you put on a holiday celebration your guests will love. As with all parties, there are a few basic components that people have come to expect – and a few basics you need to factor in.
These should be the very first things that you cover. Everything else will be built around your answers to these points and will help make the planning process much easier to do.
Sharing the load can help ensure that none of the small details are overlooked. A lot of time and effort is needed to create a celebration that is remembered for all of the right reasons. You’re not a superhero and there’s no shame in delegating tasks to co-workers. In fact, it can enhance the experience by introducing fresh ideas while creating a sense of togetherness.
The budget will be the biggest thing to work out. If you’re not a whizz with maths, then someone from accounting could be just the person you’re looking for! Design teams are ideal for theming and decorating. Copywriters and admin staff can work on speeches and invites. Every company will have a team of well-rounded individuals who can help you bring things together.
Communication is key, so make sure you regularly check in with those you’ve asked to help you. Don’t dump a long list of expectations on them and start barking orders – help out where you can and be across everything. This is a time for your leadership skills to shine.
Obviously, the best time to host a Christmas party is during the Christmas season. With that said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going off-season – especially if you’re on a very strict budget, or work in an industry that shuts down before the season kicks in – if that’s the case, even November works for a Christmas event! The closer to Christmas Day your party is, the more likely your guest will have family or other commitments. A good ballpark figure is two or three weeks before December 25th.
Timings are also important. Will you be having the do during work hours? If so, would a sit-down lunch be a better idea than a full-blown party? Most people find that an evening event held on the last day of the working week to be the best fit. This lets people go home, get dressed up and get in the mood to have fun.
By choosing the last day of the week, your guests can let their hair down safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to be in the office at the crack of dawn the next morning. This is one of those few times a year where the focus is purely on employee downtime. Let them see that their lives away from work have been thought of and give them something to look forward to.
Choosing the perfect venue for your Christmas party makes all the difference between an event that is spectacular or one that is lacklustre. While it is tempting to hold your party in the office or common room, taking things away from work can really help people let their hair down.
A venue should be large enough to accommodate all of your guests, be easily accessible and have options for food and beverages (if you want to use external catering, you’ll want somewhere to keep it all.)
Whether you’re looking for a party venue in the CBD or near to the city centre, having transport links serving the area should be a consideration. Most hotel venues will have an event planner who can help bring everything together and minimise the amount of legwork you have to put in.
Without a theme, a party is just a get-together. Theming your work holiday party can add excitement and anticipation while encouraging guests to go all out and take part. You could go formal if your party is more geared towards shareholders and upper Management, but a theme should still be in place.
Once you have come up with a theme that you like, it will be so much easier to plan your menu, music and entertainment. Make sure that you let everyone know about the theme and if there is a recommended dress code.
Unless you are doing a formal sit-down Christmas dinner, there’s no need to go OTT with the menu planning. One of the most popular ways to put on food for your guests is cocktail style and this way, it’s easy to keep it casual.
Ask around and check if anyone has any allergies, intolerances or dietary practices to make sure everyone has something to choose from. A decent spread will have sandwiches, cocktail sausages, cold meat and cheese platters, fruit platters, bread galore and light bites.
You could look at adding a twist to the menu by having guests take part in a Christmas cake competition. This brings a little bit of fun (and extra food) to the event.
While it’s tempting to load guests up on alcohol to help them have a great time, you need to be responsible with your supply. Too much and things can quickly escalate. However, with that said your party guests are adults and should have the right to choose an alcoholic beverage if they wish. Banning alcohol could lead to a very low turnout.
Perhaps look at serving drinks with a low alcohol content, for example, wine spritzers and light beer. Have plenty of soft drink options available too. If you want to opt for a ‘dry’ party, mocktails are a must. If alcohol is off-limits, the placebo effect of substitutes can work wonders.
Christmas is the season of giving. But not everyone feels comfortable going out and buying gifts for colleagues. Not only can it be hard to choose for so many people, it can also get expensive. The solution to this is simple – set up a secret santa gift exchange.
Have each person draw a name from a hat, set a price limit and apply the theme. When party day arrives, call out each guest to collect their gift (leaving the buyer anonymous.) This can be super fun and remove any awkwardness from gift giving.
Another great way to reward your staff is to run a raffle. Give each person a ticket on entry and have a few prizes up for grabs. These could be a paid day off of work, a luxury hamper, a night to the theatre – the choice is yours.
Before your Christmas party goes ahead, be sure to send out an etiquette memo to all of your attendees. You don’t want to look like you’re ruling them with an iron fist, but reminding them that certain behaviours won’t be tolerated. After all, the event might be out of office hours, but they still represent your business. Some things to remind them of include;
Basically, you want to try to avoid any behaviour that will have a negative impact on your other guests’ experience. A friendly reminder that you expect them to have fun while managing their actions is all that’s needed.
If your staff intend on drinking, dancing and socialising the night away, you should offer shared transport to and from the venue. Depending on how far away it’s located, you can also look into accommodation options. You don’t need to pay for this. If guests want somewhere to stay rather than travelling home afterwards, they should pay this themselves.
At the very least, choosing somewhere with good links to public transport and taxis should play a part in your decision. If you have members who don’t drink for whatever reason, you could ask them to be designated drivers. (Compensating them for their time and costs, etc.)
No matter how large or small your corporate Christmas party will be, we have the perfect space just for you. Let us help you bring the magic of the festive season to life with an event people will be talking about for years to come – and for all the right reasons.